Monday, April 19, 2010

Prayer AND Planning

Nearly 100 years had passed since the Israelites returned to Jerusalem from exile. Walls around the city were burnt and torn down. People intermarried with all kinds of foreigners and they were in danger of losing their identity. As I mentioned in my previous blog (Boring vs. Best), this could definitely affect their relationship with God.

God moved a heart of someone from the masses whose name was Nehemiah to rebuild the wall. This Nehemiah guy was very obedient, he mustered up the courage to talk to King Artaxerxes and asked "If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so I can rebuild it (the wall that had been destroyed by fire)."

The king agreed to his terms. But before Nehemiah broadcasted it to the city officials, he first inspected the gates. He examined the wall, from the Valley Gate to the Jackal Well to the Dung Gate to the Fountain Gate to the King's Pool and back to the Valley Gate. During this time, he was already gathering information. This is the first step in the planning process or in any strategy formulation. Upon reading this, I realized that God is not really against us planning. Initially I thought planning would be like taking the pen from God and writing our own life story. But this is not really the case, especially if what we plan is ALIGNED to His Will and will ACKNOWLEDGE that God is the one who will see it through. Quoting Nehemiah when He was ridiculed by the Ammonites and Arabs "The God of heaven will give us SUCCESS. We his servant will start rebuilding.."

Recently, I made an operational plan for a venture and a marketing plan for an airline. It took me nights of painstaking research and days of braindraining analytical writing to finish the plans. It was tempting thought to say, "if this is God's will, then He will make it happen, whether I plan for it or not." But the Bible says it differently. "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." Your PLAN - our plan. When I committed them to the Lord after making the plan, saying “these plans are for you, hope they bring you glory. Not my will but Your Will be done.” There’s a different sense of peace that overflowed. Committing your plans to the Lord, and knowing that His plan (which if aligned, is the same with yours) will come to pass is strangely an invigorating feeling.

After planning, there comes execution. Nehemiah not only prayed for protection, BUT HE ALSO posted a guard day and night. He made sure that everyone had a weapon while working. He made sure that everyone would be ready to fight once a trumpet sounds. He told the people once enemies attack ‘remember the Lord AND fight’. He had a wonderful blend of prayer and action. At the end of the day, once the trumpet sounds and the people gather together and fight, it will not be the people, but “Our God will fight for us!” (Neh 4:20).

I’m amazed how God can MOVE hearts and USE people for grand missions. May we learn from Nehemiah the heart of obedience, courage and discipline to plan and execute for God’s great glory!

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